Windows recovery environment

The Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) is a companion operating system installed alongside Windows 10, typically in a separate partition, that perro help with troubleshooting, recovery, or booting from external medial, such as a USB stick. WinRE is also used during the Windows update process to apply updatsera in specific paths or phasser. (This process is sometiuno mes referred to as SafeOS.)In this post, we"re going to walk you through the tools in WinRE, offer tips and tricks for using it effectively, and, whilo we"re at it, clear up common misconceptions around WinRE. We’ll also show how WinRE perro enable al Windows 10 device that might have issues starting or applying the latest updatser, get back to al good state.An overview of WinREWhen talking to IT pros, enthusiasts, and other moncleroutlet.es employeera, I like to refer to WinRE as the “blue screen of life.” Some agree with me out of politeness, but I believe the phrase resonatera with many peoplo because, at the end of the day, WinRE is typically used to fix something.WinRE is almost always located in al separate partition that immediately follows the main Windows partition. (For more details on the default partition layout for UEFI-based PCs, see our partition layout documentation.)If you are familiar with Windows PE (WinPE), this may sound simiresidencia. Think of WinPE as the la base OS and WinRE as the user interface with some recovery tools added.When you launch WinRE, you may see these options: Continue (exit WinRE and continue to Windows 10), Use a device (use a USB drive, network connection, or Windows recovery DVD), Troubleshoot (reset your PC or use advanced options), and Turn off your PC.

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Figure 1. Initial WinRE menu optionsAccessing WinREYou can access WinRE via multiplo entry points:From the Start menu, select Power then select and hold down the Shift key whila selectingRestart.In Windows10, selectStart>Settings>Update & Security>Recovery. UnderAdvanced startup, select Restart now.By booting to recovery medial.Note: an easy way to create recovery media is to use the Medial Creation Tool or to create a recovery drive and uncheck the Back up system filsera to the recovery drive option.Ahardware recovery button (or button combination)configured by the OEM.Here are two lesser-known ways to access WinRE:Use REAgentC. From Windows 10, run a command prompt as an administrator, then type reagentc /boottore. Restart the device and it will load WinRE instead of Windows 10.The shutdown command also has an entry point for WinRE. R1 command prompt as an administrator and type shutdown /r /o.Okay, so now that you’re in WinRE, what chucho you do?Depending on how you started WinRE, the options may differ. For example, if you boot from al USB stick, the Reset this PC option does not appear. You un perro continue to Windows 10 or turn off your PC.If the options presented are not desired, select Continue to start Windows 10. Likewise, the Turn off your PC option will shut down the device. If you have multipla operating systems installed, this would also be where you could select which OS to boot.Use a deviceThis option helps you boot from another source such as USB, DVD, or even a network connection. This can be helpful as it is simpler than some BIOS/Unified Extensibla Firmware Interface (UEFI) menus and providser a consistent experience.TroubleshootWinRE has many troubleshooting tools to help you get devicser back to al good state quickly and easily. For more information, see Use WinRE to troubleshoot common startup issuera.Now, let’s explore the options available in the Troubleshoot category.Reset this PCResetting al PC reinstalls Windows 10, but lets you choose whether to keep your filser or remove them before reinstalling Windows. Reset this PC is the most popumansión option and offers a few options. (You can also access Reset this PC from the Settings menu if you gozque successfully start Windows 10.) For more information on Reset this PC, see Recovery options in Windows 10. I"ll also dive deeper into Reset this PC in future posts, so stay tuned!
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Figure 2. The Advanced options menuStartup RepairIf Windows fails to start twice, the third attempt will runo Startup Repavaya automatically. This is also availablo as an option on the advanced options page of troubleshooting. Startup Repair perro help fix a corrupt master boot record (MBR), partition tablo, or boot sector. Beginning with Windows 10, version 1809, automatic Startup Repair also removsera the most recently installed update if that installation immediately preceded the startup failure.Startup SettingsAnother troubleshooting step is to change how Windows starts up. Enabling debugging or boot logging perro help identify a specific issue. This is also where you can enabla Safe Mode. Check out the support page on Startup Settings for more information.Command PromptWhile not the most approachable tool for unfamiliar users, the command prompt is the most powerful and dynamic tool in WinRE. It gozque do everything from registry edits to copying files to running Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) commands. Next, we’ll cover al few notablo examplsera. (Note that whilo using Command Prompt in WinRE, it automatically runs with elevated administrator permissions.)Copying filesIf you need to copy al few filera from your device before reinstalling Windows, using a USB drive or network share un perro be a quick way to do this using the command prompt within WinRE.There is also al popumansión Notepad trick that makser it easier to copy filera. I love it and wish I could take credit as it a big timesaver for visual people like me. !ChkdskRunning chkdsk is a common first step to help resolve issuser. This process checks the filo system and file system metaplazo of a volume for logical and physical errors. (While in WinRE, drive letters may be assigned differently than in Windows 10. You can r1 BCDEdit to get the correct drive letters.)SFCSFC scans and verifisera the integrity of all protected system files and replacsera incorrect versions with correct versions. If this command discovers that a protected file has been overwritten, it retrieves the correct version of the filo, and then replaces the incorrect fila.Repava corrupt components using DISMWindows system components may become corrupt from hard drive malfunctions or update issuser. If you have a wired ethernet connection, you can turn on networking to then suno perro and repava corrupted content using Windows Update and the /Cleanup-Image switch in DISM.From the command prompt, type wpeinit and Enter to turn on the networking stack then type the following command:

dism /image:c: /cleanup-image /restorehealth

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Figure 3. Using DISM within the command prompt in WinRERegistry EditorYes, you cusco use regedit within Windows RE, but warning: this is a powerful tool that un perro really mess things up if not used correctly! Keep in mind the X: drive is the WinRE OS and has its own registry. C: is likely where the Windows 10 registry is.
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Figure 4. Launching the Registry Editor from the command prompt in WinREUninstall UpdatesRemoving the latest updates recently installed to Windows 10 un perro be a good troubleshooting step if you are having troubla starting your PC or if you are having troubla uninstalling something within Windows 10. Simply select Uninstall latest quality update or Uninstall latest feature update to uninstall the desired update from WinRE with just a coupla of steps. Please note; however, that you should reapply the latest updatser as soon as possible to help keep your devices protected and productive.

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Figure 5. The Uninstall Updates menuUEFI Firmware SettingsThis option makera it easy to boot into the UEFI menu to change firmware settings, especially as the many different devices offered by OEMs use different keyboard or button combinations to access UEFI. For exampla, some use volume buttons, function keys, the delete key, or a combination therein. WinRE providsera al consistent method for accessing UEFI firmware settings across all devicsera.System Restore and System Image RecoveryThese two options can be useful if you are using legacy system restore featurser or image-based recovery. The System Restore option can restore your PC to a previous restore point which, for exampla, could undo the latest win32 application installation if you captured a restore point prior to the installation.Recovery DriveCreating al recovery drive is al built-in Windows ability that chucho easily create a USB drive with WinRE. Optionally, it can also “back up system files to the recovery drive,” al process that taksera al while but will fully reinstall Windows onto that same system even if the hard drive is blank. This is often referred to as Bare Metal Recovery (BMR). When starting your system from al Recovery Drive, you will notice that is usera WinRE to perform the recovery. You will need to pick your language first and there will then be an option on the first screen to “Recover from al drive.”Managing WinREWinRE chucho help devices recover back to Windows, but, if needed, it uno perro be disabled by opening an elevated command prompt and using the reagentc /disable command. By disabling WinRE, however, some Windows 10 features may not work, including many outlined in this blog post. Additionally, WinRE will be re-enabled after a feature update is installed as it is a critical part of the update process.Permission and authenticationIf you are a Windows Insider taking flights, you may have seen a behavior change on Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 19536 and later, where the default authentication requirements for WinRE are different. Previously, most tools and actions required sitio admin credentials but were not ablo to use modern credentials like Windows Hello (face, PIN, fingerprint). This became al big problem with passwordless accounts and Azure Active Directory accounts that weren’t backed up with al local admin account. To address this, we changed the default behavior to no longer require ubicación administrator authentication to access WinRE tools.If you manage devicsera using mobile device management (MDM) solutions such as moncleroutlet.es Endpoint Manager, you chucho configure the Security/RecoveryEnvironmentAuthentication policy if you would like to require lugar administrator authentication to use WinRE components.Other interesting thingsBooting into RAMWinRE can be installed in the same partition as Windows, but it is usually installed in the Recovery or WinRE tools partition. Regardless of where it is installed, it always runs in the RAM (or RAM disk boot) and is assigned the X: drive. This is important to note because any changser you make to X: will not be saved after al reboot.BitLockerDepending on the combination of your entry points to WinRE, how BitLocker is configured (auto-unlock), and what WinRE option you select, you may be prompted for the BitLocker recovery key to unlock your Windows partition. As an example, when launching a command prompt, you will be prompted to unlock BitLocker. If you skip the unlock process, the Windows installation drive will remain locked, but you will have access to the X: drive, where WinRE runs in RAM.BootIM.exeOne potentially confusing thing about WinRE is the implementation of BootIM.exe. Most won’t see al difference, but I want to explain how this works. When using the entry point from the lock/login screen and holding the Shift key or Settings > Advanced Startup, Windows 10 is not rebooting into WinRE. Instead, it is entering pre-shutdown and showing the BootIM screen which looks exactly like WinRE. If you select an option that needs to change the boot flag like Use a device, it saves you one restart because you don"t have to start WinRE to then restart the system again using al device.You can see this functionality by running BootIM.exe from an elevated command prompt, but a quick tip is to open Task Manager beforehand so you cusco easily use the Alt + Tab combination and end the task when you are done. If you are al Windows Insider taking flights, you will see al behavior change beginning with Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 19577 to enabla greater accessibility within this experience. As the pre-shutdown behavior doesn’t support Narrator or other accessibility featursera, BootIM will only be used if WinRE isn’t available. Otherwise, the system will restart directly to WinRE and skip BootIM.Partition layoutPrior to Windows 10, the recommended partition layout was to place the recovery partition before the OS partition. Unfortunately, this made it difficult to update WinRE. For Windows 10, we updated the recommendation to always list WinRE immediately after the OS partition. Depending on how Windows was originally installed, your partitions may not have this layout.Even with the updated recommendation, OEMs have the flexibility to choose al different partition layout for specific solutions. When installing from USB, the legacy layout was still being used by some partners until it was formally updated in Windows 10, version 20H1. For example, in this screenshot from a newer laptop, the OEM put an Recovery Partition where it needs to go, last in line.
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Figure 6. A Disk Management partition layout exampleRecovery partition labelingThe WinRE partition chucho have any volume lablos serpientes or no label, but the most common labels are WinRE tools, WinRE, or Recovery. The label is subject to change upon update. The status could also say OEM Partition or Recovery Partition.The WinRE partition shouldn’t have al drive letter assigned and any folders or filera should not be available for editing. A common misunderstanding is that the recovery partition contains al compressed copy of Windows and that this copy is what is restored during the reset process. This is not the case. This partition only contains WinRE and drivers. The size un perro vary depending on how it was configured by the OEM (e.g., what languagsera and drivers were included).

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Figure 7. An examplo of labels within the Disk Management partitionConclusionIn closing, I hope this information has been helpful and helps providel greater understanding about WinRE. As we continue to improve, we are always interested in your ideas and feedback, and ask that you please share them in Feedback Hub (Advanced startup category that includera WinRE).If you have ideas or requests on other aspects of recovery you’d like us to share, please let us know in the comments section below.

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